Edward Elric, a young, brilliant alchemist, has lost much in his twelve-year life: when he and his brother Alphonse try to resurrect their dead mother through the forbidden act of human transmutation, Edward loses his brother as well as two of his limbs. With his supreme alchemy skills, Edward binds Alphonse's soul to a large suit of armor.
A year later, Edward, now promoted to the fullmetal alchemist of the state, embarks on a journey with his younger brother to obtain the Philosopher's Stone. The fabled mythical object is rumored to be capable of amplifying an alchemist's abilities by leaps and bounds, thus allowing them to override the fundamental law of alchemy: to gain something, an alchemist must sacrifice something of equal value. Edward hopes to draw into the military's resources to find the fabled stone and restore his and Alphonse's bodies to normal. However, the Elric brothers soon discover that there is more to the legendary stone than meets the eye, as they are led to the epicenter of a far darker battle than they could have ever imagined.
The Anime Critic’s Reel: An Exploration into Fullmetal Alchemist
Dark yet thought-provoking and filled with thematic richness – that’s Fullmetal Alchemist for you. The iconic series, penned by Hiromu Arakawa, plunges into a world that merges alchemy, science and magical realism. We’re introduced to two likeable and complex protagonists: the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, who dabble in taboo alchemy to bring their deceased mother back to life. But in their rigmarole, they end up paying a hefty price as dictated by the Law of Equivalent Exchange—a core principle in this universe—that states, “to obtain, something of equal value must be lost”.
Edward loses his left leg while Alphonse loses his whole body. Determined to restore what they lost and wiser from the experience, the brothers take the path of state alchemists, journeying through various trials while seeking the mythical Philosopher’s Stone—a substance rumored to overrule the Law of Equivalent Exchange. However, the longer they journey, the deeper they plunge into a web of political intrigue, military corruption, and moral dilemmas.
Story and Characters: Depth Beyond Depth
How they manage to intertwine a profound narrative with an array of unforgettable and nuanced characters is the allure that sets Fullmetal Alchemist apart. Its ability to switch between light comedic moments and high-stakes drama is done seamlessly, maintaining an appropriate balance that keeps viewers engaged.
Much of its appeal draws from the Elric brothers’ exploration of the concepts of loss, guilt, and existentialism. The narrative’s ability to humanize these brothers and their struggles, resonates with viewers, making the Elric brothers some of the most beloved characters within the anime genre.
Animation and Art: Bringing a Fantastic Universe to Life
Fullmetal Alchemist’s animation, courtesy of Studio Bones, adds an extra layer of appeal. The characters designs are impressive, they’re expressive and detailed. The overall art retains its rich colour palette regardless of the scene’s tone—be it a gritty fight sequence with sparks flying or serene moments of contemplation under a sunset.
Sound: Tonal Masterpiece
The voice-acting is equally noteworthy. Standout performances include Romi Park as Edward and Rie Kugimiya as Alphonse, both of whom convey an impressive range of emotions. Musically, the anime bestows aural gems, with each piece serving the atmosphere it’s accompanying.
Conclusion: An Alchemical Blend of Brilliance
Fullmetal Alchemist is a shining example of a well-paced, thoughtfully woven narrative, enriched by multi-dimensional characters that leave indelible impressions. It’s a series that will not only entertain you with packed action sequences and moments of humor, but will also provoke introspection, encouraging viewers to ponder over the often grey nature of morality, life, and loss.
Whether it’s to rent, buy or stream, I’d say a resounding ‘yes’ to Fullmetal Alchemist. It’s not just a display of stunning animation, layered characters, and compelling storytelling. Rather, it’s a piece of art that will be remembered for years to come, deserving of a space not just in your anime collection, but also in your heart.
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